Green tea, like black or oolong tea, is tea that is made with the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. What makes green tea different from black tea is not the plant used to make the tea, but how the leaves of the plant are processed. Typically green tea is less than 5% oxidised - the chart below shows the different kinds of teas and their relative level of oxidisation. Green tea’s relatively lower amount of oxidisation to black or oolong tea is means that more of the nutrients and health benefits are preserved.
Chinese teas typically have a more mellow flavour and are more robust than Japanese teas. Japanese green teas tend to have stronger flavours with more grassy and vegetal notes than with Chineses teas. Japanese teas are more sensitive than Chinese green teas and are best infused more delicately with water of around 70 degrees C. Famous Japanese teas include sencha, matcha, hojicha and genmaicha. Japanese green teas are also more likely to have a higher level of caffeine than Chinese greens and you can check this by looking at the leaves; darker leaves usually have a higher level of caffeine. Chinese green teas by comparison offer a much wider selection, with teas coming from more than fifteen regions, using three different processing methods and with leaves moulded or rolled into nine different shapes.
There are a few simple ways to access the quality of what you have.
Most people’s first experience with green tea involves a tea bag and boiling water. Many are so haunted by this experience that they never try it again. The reality usually is that they have tried bad tea made badly and surprise, surprise it didn’t taste great. When green tea is made correctly it can actually taste sweet.
The tannin is tea is what gives it that bitter flavour. If the tea you are drinking tastes too bitter then try decreasing the temperature of the water this should mean that less tannin is released when you make your brew.
If you want to make your tea stronger, simply add more leaves and brew your tea for the same amount of time, and at the same recommended temperature. Don’t make the mistake of brewing your tea for longer as this will stew the tea and it will taste bitter.
The first brew is the only infusion in which the leaves must also be steeped (immersed until soaked through and releasing their liquor.) This adds a little extra time to the length of the first infusion which, once fully brewed should be completely poured off into your teacup; it’s for this reason that we advise you to only add the amount of water that you’d like to drink as tea per infusion.
When using quality whole leaf tea, the second infusion utilises ready steeped leaves which are still bursting with lots of flavour and nutrients. These steeped leaves will release their licquor faster during the second brew than in the firstor any subsequent re-infusions and as such, the second infusion shoul d be the shortest. Exact length depends on the variety as well as personal preference and is typically about a half to two thirds the length of the first infusion.
Subsequent infusions are extracting more deeply held flavour from the nearer the core of the leaves which will remain after correctly brewing the tea a first and second time. This takes a little longer and begins to extend the brewing time on subsequent infusions by perhaps 20 to 30 seconds per infusion.
The general principal of and initial infusion, a short second and then increasingly longer subsequent infusions is key. The precise lengths involved really are a matter for the individual. The other factor to realise is that there is a finite amount of strength of flavour and nutrients which can be extracted from any leaf. It will eventually be completely drained. Therefore, the total number of infusions a portion of tea leaves varies depending on the strength at which it was brewed. More subtler infusions, or fewer stronger ones; we leave that to you to decide.
There are a lot people out there linking green tea and weight loss. The Chinese have believed that it has helped people lose weight for centuries. At Chah, we have several happy customers and one director who will swear that that green and oolong tea has helped them shed the pounds. What’s more tests on animals reveal that they shed the pounds with they start consuming a bit of green tea, so if you have any overweight pet mice, green tea could be the answer to your problems. However, the scientific evidence around green tea and weight loss in humans not so conclusive, with some studies finding evidence of weight loss and others proving inconclusive. One of the greatest problems with human trials is the lack of strictly controlled test groups. While an animal subject relies on its keepers for food and its intake can be precisely meaured, humans are not so limited. An overall good attitude and desire for a lifestyle change are indespensible for successfully losing weight, as Chah director Antony Rogers (seen pictured in the About Us section of the website) will attest. He successfully lost 53lbs/24kg and comments, “Adopting health giving teas in place of sugary or milky soft drinks as part of that change was invaluable; but expecting the tea to do all the hard work or supply the will power would not have worked.”
Pu-erh is the green tea that is traditional linked to weight loss and is a common ingredient in weight loss blends. We can find no scientific evidence to back this up though and can think of no reason why one green tea would be any better than any other for weight loss other than caffeine content. If it's caffeine content you are after then try a darker oolongs such as wuyi yancha or oriental beauty. Note, we didn’t suggest black tea as these don’t have polyphenols which are the chief ingredient behind the weight loss claims.
Yes, it does but not too much. The average cup of green tea contains 30 m.g. of caffeine, black tea around 50mg and coffee 115-175mg. The general rule is that the darker the leaves the more caffeine is in the tea. For example sencha has more caffeine than Dragon Well, although there are exceptions to this and this rule is only useful for comparing teas or similar type - for example, greens with other greens and oolongs with oolongs. Caffeine content in tea is affected by the strength of brew, growing conditions processing methods and more. Did you know that there is more caffeine in shade grown tea than that which isn’t? But if you’re not a fan of caffeine, fear not; you can remove a significant amount of the caffeine from your tea just by rinsing the leaves in hot water for a few seconds before brewing. But remember that green tea is already quite low in caffeine and there is at least a small amount of caffeine in lots of things, even “decafinated” coffee so don’t let it put you off next time you buy green tea.